The Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance is an integral part of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies and embodies the Museum’s special commitment to study Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Inaugurated in 1995, the Lerman Center honors Miles Lerman, chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council from 1993 to 2000, who led a partisan unit against German occupying forces in southern Poland during World War II.
The Lerman Center promotes scholarly interest in Jewish resistance during the Holocaust and serves as a venue for disseminating new research findings on the subject to the academic community and others. To accomplish this, it supports a wide variety of activities and programs, including publications and books, fellowships, scholarly programs and presentations, and archival acquisitions.
Publications and Books
The Mandel Center has prepared two occasional papers on resistance efforts: “Jewish Resistance: A Working Bibliography” (also available as a PDF), which highlights the appearance of new scholarship on this topic, and Nechama Tec’s “Jewish Resistance: Facts, Omissions, and Distortions,” which examines several cases of Jewish resistance in ghettos, concentration camps, and forced labor camps.
Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Israel Gutman (Houghton Mifflin 1994) draws on diaries, letters, and underground press reports to examine the best-known ghetto uprising.
The Museum also has historical photographs related to Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.
Research Fellowship of the Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance
This fellowship is designed to encourage exploration of aspects of Jewish resistance. This includes, but is not limited to, partisan activity, armed rebellion, sabotage, espionage, document forgeries, and other efforts to undermine the Nazis’ effectiveness, such as underground hiding and rescue efforts, as well as establishing criteria for evaluating the impact of resistance.
Read more about the fellowship and application guidelines.
Past recipients of fellowships on Jewish resistance during the Holocaust:
- Michal Aharony, New School for Research, New York, August 2007-April 2008, “Total Domination: Between Conception and Experience - Rethinking the Arendtian Account through Holocaust Testimony”
- Cecile Kuznitz, Bard College, February–September 2007, “Jewish Scholarship in Times of Crisis: The YIVO Institute, 1933-1954”
- Rakmiel Peltz, Drexel University, June–December 2005, “Language and Identity in Holocaust Survivor Families: A Study of Cultural Survival”
- Mette Jensen, PhD candidate, Yale University, August–November 2002, “Solidarity in Action: Collective Rescue Efforts in Nazi-Occupied Europe”
- Steven Bowman, University of Cincinnati, August–October 2002, “Jews in the Resistance Movements in Greece during World War II”
- Pnina Rosenberg, Art Curator and Lecturer, Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, Israel, August–October 2002, “Yiddish Culture in the French Occupied Zone Camps (1941–1944)”
- Thomas Sandkuehler, Bielefeld University, Germany, May–August 2002, “Jewish Life in the Warsaw Ghetto: The Diaries of Chaim A. Kaplan, 1939–1942”
- Lenore Weitzman, George Mason University, February–June 2002, “Female Couriers in the Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust”
- Sarunas Liekis, Lithuanian Law University, October 2001–March 2002, “The Role of Jews in the Soviet Partisan Movement”
- Thomas Pegelow, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, August 15–December 15, 2001, “The Politico-Cultural Conflicts over Jewishness and Germanness in Germany, 1928–1948”
- Yitshak Arad, Independent scholar, September 1–December 1, 2000, “Archival Research Anthology on Jewish Resistance”
- Nechama Tec, University of Connecticut, January 1–May 1, 1997, “Jewish Resistance: Facts, Omissions, and Distortions”
Scholarly Programs and Presentations
The Miles Lerman Center regularly cosponsors lectures, panels, and scholarly workshops with the Mandel Center.
Summer Research Workshops
The Mandel Center welcomes applications from scholars interested in undertaking Summer Research Workshops on Jewish Resistance. These workshops encourage collaborative research among six to ten scholars working on similar or closely related topics in Holocaust studies but who are in different disciplines or geographic locations. All workshops conclude with a public symposium given by the participants. For more information on Summer Research Workshops for Scholars and application guidelines, click here.
In August 2004, the Mandel Center held a workshop entitled “Jewish Holocaust Diaries and Early Memoirs, 1933–1954: Disclosing Identity and Survival Strategies,” co-sponsored with the Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance. Participants in the workshop examined (1) the evolving religious, cultural, and political self-understanding of Jews during the Holocaust, as well as their vision of a potentially meaningful Jewish existence afterward; and (2) the possible links between changes in Jewish identity and the selection of survival strategies in the face of the Nazi assault.
In August 2003, a Summer Research Workshop for Scholars entitled, “Jewish Resistance and Jews in National Resistance Movements in Nazi-Occupied and Axis Countries,” cosponsored by the Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance, brought together eight scholars from Poland, Israel, France, and the United States under the leadership of resistance scholar and former Miles Lerman Fellow, Nechama Tec. Participants discussed and debated the definition of Jewish resistance in the light of recent archival research and from the perspective of various scholarly disciplines, including intellectual history, sociology, political science, gender studies, and philosophy.
In July 1999, a workshop took place on the subject of “Jewish Resistance in the Nazi Concentration Camps." The program brought together an international group of scholars who, drawing on new archival sources, discussed and debated the range of resistance activities in concentration camps including armed conflict, sabotage, and spontaneous and organized efforts of material aid and moral support for inmates.
The Lerman Center regularly organizes lecture series featuring prominent experts. These series offer a more in-depth look at Holocaust-related topics, and serve as a venue for debate, discussion, and the dissemination of new research results.
Past lectures and panel discussions have included:
- Rabbi Irving Greenberg, President, Jewish Life Network and Chair, United States Holocaust Memorial Council; Steven T. Katz, Director, Center for Judaic Studies, Boston University, and Co-Chair, Academic Committee, United States Holocaust Memorial Council; R. Clifton Spargo, Assistant Professor, English Department, Marquette University, Milwaukee, and Pearl Resnick Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies “Abba Kovner: Resistance, Cultural, and Religious Leader”, February 28, 2001
- Dr. Yitshak Arad, former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Yad Vashem, “Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust,” “The Problems and Scope of Jewish Resistance in Ghettos and Forests,” “Operation Reinhard and the Jewish Uprisings in Treblinka and Sobibor,” “A Comparison of the Underground Movements in the Vilna, Minsk, and other Ghettos,” Fall 2000
- James M. Glass, Professor, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park “Identity and Action: Violence and Its Psychological Functions for Jewish Resistance,” May 20, 1999
- Michael Bar-Zohar, Adjunct Professor of History, Emory University “The Rescue of Bulgarian Jewry during the Holocaust,” January 14, 1999
- Nechama Tec, Professor of Sociology, University of Connecticut at Stamford and former Senior Research Fellow, Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance, “Jewish Resistance: Fact, Omissions, and Distortions,” October 15, 1998
- Reneo Lukic, Professor of History, University of Laval, Quebec, and former Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, “The Jewish Presence in the Anti-Nazi Partisan Movement in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945,” September 17, 1998